July 7, 2015. 11:20
CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | Contact
Hundreds of thousands celebrate this week, as NAIDOC week begins in both schools and workplaces, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians pay tribute to the country’s first nations people. Their achievements, contributions and culture.
However, in the leafy enclave of Pymble – in Sydney’s North Shore, Stephanie Rathbone is confused.
“I’ve been hearing about this NAIDOC thing all week, what on earth is it?”
As a recently remarried, stay-at-home mother of three out-of-home children, Mrs Rathbone says she first stumbled across the acronym while driving across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
“Right in the middle of the bridge, I saw this massive banner with NAIDOC sprawled across it, surrounded by Aboriginal dot art. I thought maybe there might have been another apology,”
“Next thing I see this bloody word sprawled across the Sydney Morning Herald – That’s when I started thinking it might have something to do with the Western Suburbs Football (NRL).
Mrs Rathbone, who’s oldest daughter is currently living in London, while her twin sons are ‘jackarooing’ in the Queensland Gulf, says she had no one to ask.
“I called my husband, Francis, right away. Unfortunately, Francis is South African with very little interest in Australian culture – so I may as well have asked my cat, Malcolm”
“I went and asked our cleaner, Ravi. He lives in Strathfield so I thought he would know, especially if it had something to do with the working class footballers,”
As a recent 457 visa-holder, Ravi told Mrs Rathbone that he was not very well versed in the Australian holiday calendar, however he thought it might have something to do with the recent Border Protection Act.
“I then thought it was about the boat people. No wonder I hadn’t heard anything about it on 2GB… I spoke to some of the girls at bridge about it, none of them had heard a thing. I was really starting to feel quite old”
Mr Rathbone says that after leaving the girls, she popped into her local café and asked the owner-operator Andrew, a well-known Labor-voter.
“Andrew says it has something to do with the Aborigines, so I guess I was right to begin with… but he couldn’t tell me much more,”
“That’s when I decided to use that dastard google,”
NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week is an Australian observance lasting from the first Sunday in July until the following Sunday.
NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The week is celebrated not just in the Indigenous communities but also in increasing numbers of government agencies, schools, local councils and workplaces.
As a card-carrying member of the North Shore Rotary, Mrs Rathbone says the “plight of blacks in this country” has been close to her heart ever since Cathy Freeman lit the torch during the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony. She says she will endeavour to involve herself in any local NAIDOC celebrations over the course of the week.
“I was just so relieved to finally figure out what on earth was going on. I’m a real community person, so I’ll be at any NAIDOC functions with bells on…”
“I just have to convince my husband to join.”